Shirt off your back

checky-bowToday I am wearing my brand new checky bow.

I keep getting dirty looks and it’s really not my fault. Really. Obviously it usually is but I’ve been set up. The thing is, I went to your very own Bow Tie Maker and the Old Un’s house for a couple of days of wrapping them round my little claw, getting chicken pieces hand fed at a drop of a hat and generally lounging around, snoozing in the ever strengthening late winter sun and having a good old time. But something rather disturbing happened half way through the first day of the stay.

There I was, paws over his lap as we both slept. Old Un wheezing a bit ( chest infection – he’ll be fine) and me, well, doing nothing. I heard the gentle padding of slippered feet up the stairs. Nothing to worry about I thought, as I hadn’t heard the front door open. Can’t be anyone except the Bow Tie Maker. She just doesn’t stop. She isn’t allowed to with all the orders coming in. It wears me out. Anyway, I heard the distant footsteps upstairs and thought nothing more about it. After what could have been minutes but was probably more like a couple of hours, I heard the call.

‘Tea. Come on you two.’

Now, I’m a tad sprightlier than the Old Un and with infinite better hearing. I jumped up, nosed open the door and dutifully strolled into the kitchen. There it was, not the bow tie maker, but a new bow. And it looked good. Checky, somewhat familiar yet fun and new. It was fitted, adjusted in seconds and there I was, looking good. The bow tie maker made the usual fuss but I wanted a more neutral opinion. After all she had made it, so was honour bound to like it, but the Old Un?  Well, if he likes something it must be good. So, I trotted back into the lounge where he was still asleep. I nudged his hand. Nothing. I weaved under his outstretched legs, he shuffled a bit but nothing. I licked his hand. A kind of snorting and guttural hack but no eye movement. Good grief man, I’m here, new bowtie and you’re still dreaming. And we had been called a few minutes ago so if history is anything to go by, that was only going to escalate. I had to play the big card. I barked. He jolted, looked around, focussed on me and said

‘Good lad Johnny. Only resting my eyes. All OK? Nice bow tie by the way.’

And that’s all I needed.

It’s a pity the story doesn’t end there. You know, a happy ending, where we all tucked into chicken, followed by a minute or two outside then back in to get stuck into some proper antisocial eye resting all evening. But no. It doesn’t end there. The Old Un came into the kitchen. I followed. There was the usual ‘stop getting in my way’ from the Bow Tie Maker to the Old Un, a bit of kettle steaming stuff, oven door open and closing, jowl jingling aromas and…..the Old Un opened the pedal bin lid to put something in. It was that simple: He opened the pedal bin lid to put something in. But he also saw the remains of his favourite shirt covered in egg shells, coffee grinds and the remains of my tuna lunch. He opened the lid and saw all that. Goodness knows how he must have felt. His favourite shirt.

‘That’s my shirt’ he said.

‘Yes it is’ the Bow Tue Maker said.

‘My favourite, checky shirt’

‘Yes it is’ she repeated, not easily tripped up with this line of enquiry.

I actually thought the Bow Tie Maker was going to laugh when he cautiously picked it out, held it up, and peered through the holes.

He looked around at me.  Our eyes locked. Oh come on Old Un. Firstly I was with you (if only you opened your eyes to see who was sprawling on you) and secondly, I’m the model not the manufacturing department. I can’t operate a sewing machine or get thread through the eye of a needle. Crikey, I’m only wearing it because she, and I shot my glance at the Bow Tie Maker, made me, tempting me with a piece of bacon and a crumb of best Lancashire cheese.  What choice do I have? Take it up with her……

But he didn’t. He knows which side his bread is buttered. He said it looked great and is a perfect example of how a bow tie can be made out of virtually anything – even a favourite shirt ( now with a 40cm square piece out of the back, another from the front and minus buttons squirrelled away just in case, the rest gently marinating in discarded, semi solid fish)

After a rather subdued meal everything settled down back to normal. The telly was on, the Old Un resumed resting his eyes (they must be very tired) and I continued to look great in the new bow tie. I did feel nervous when I heard that gentle padding of slippered feet up the stairs. She’s at it again. Nothing is safe or sacred. Bespoke bows look great but can tear a family, or at least a shirt apart you know.

Your bow tied dog blogger.

Johnny Meringue.


New-year-blog-picToday I am wearing my Blue Dotty bow.

Things are getting back to normal. I mean, it was all change over Christmas and New Year, with everyone around, lots of tinsel and stuff but now, it kind of quietens down. However, we are still, or were, in a strict regime of new year resolutions.

The Old One is the main culprit. Every year he is going to do better. He’s going to walk more ( like that happens now it’s turned colder), he’s going to stop some of his bad habits like….well, best not go there. But this year he said he was going to be more calm, not lose his temper at minor irritations and generally, as the teenager of the house says, ‘chill his beans.’  An unlikely scenario.

With every one back to work and school and the indoor decorations down and put away, the Old One promised to turn his attention to the twinkly lights in the tree at the front of the hose. Now, it took him the best part of a day to put them up, with the help of two ladders, a long handled brush, his reading glasses, a screwdriver and other essential items such as mugs of tea and biscuits. I helped of course. I sat patiently near the tree watching. I have to admit I had a little wander after an hour but he soon found me. I felt he needed the break.

Anyway, it soon came time to take the installation down. ‘Come on Johnny, lets sort the lights out’ and out we trotted. Remember, this is a chap who has resolved to chill his beans and stay calm. The first test was the garage lock. The key is wonky ( not guilty – I tried but the metal was too hard to bend) and difficult to get into the lock. But he did it without any cursing. Second test was dragging the ladders from the ever burgeoning garage. I don’t know why he keeps those empty cardboard boxes, but the one that the turkey was delivered in still had faint traces of loveliness so I played with that as he struggled but succeeded in extricating the bits and bobs he needed. He didn’t bark when I helped with unplugging the wires from the extension lead. It seemed like he was in total control, keeping calm and his beans were well and truly chilled. Then the heat was turned up.

Ladders can be awkward. I know this after getting stuck on the second and third rung. Disorientating I say. But not apparently this time. Securely wedged in the tree branches with additional anchorage at the base he was ready to go. And he did. Like a ferret up a drainpipe. His plan was to locate the ‘easy to find end’ of the lights to start winding back from there. I sat and watched. He kind of talks out loud these days as he’s doing things and apparently he was struggling to find the knot at the end of the lights. ‘I need to find the end’ he kept saying. Now, a dog can only take so much of this so I went for another sniff and furtle in the open garage. ‘Not now Johnny. Come back’ came the command. I stopped, looked back to see him stretching for the apparent end. Now, like you, I thought ‘here he goes, he’s over’ and waited for the fall. But no.

‘Oh never mind. I can’t find it. I’ll wind them in from the start of the lights.’ And down he came. I was truly amazed. It had the hallmarks of a slip, scrape, crash and nee-nah of ambulance about it (like the time he blasted the wallpaper stripper into his own face but that’s another story for another time) He scampered down, moved the ladders and started to wind the lights in from the base of the tree. He was calm. He was content. His beans were almost at freezing point. A changed man. Then it happened.

Lights, as we all know, have a mind of their own and the wires somehow get wrapped around each other, the twigs of trees, the knots in the trunk, passing cars, overhead cables, me, the legs of lads and lags, ladders, in fact anything and everything. So much in fact it’s enough to heat beans.

He flipped, the Old One, snarling ‘That’s it. I’ve had enough of these stupid things’ and dropped everything. He stormed to the garage, me slinking to the side to watch from a safe distance, as he emerged brandishing scissors.

‘I’ll give you tangled’ as he set about the wires, cutting them into small sections and throwing them over his shoulder. ‘You’re not tangled now are you’ he snarled as an elderly lady supported by a walking frame shuffled by. She looked at the Old One. She looked at me. I’m sure her eyes said ‘Come home with me, you”ll be safe there.’ After several minutes of manic hacking and sawing, the lights were indeed off the tree. Unfortunately they were in small sections all over the path. The Old One looked at me. I looked at him.

‘Don’t tell anyone Johnny. No one will remember in a years time. I’ll get some new ones.’

Don’t worry ‘Mr not-so-chilled-beans-now’ I won’t. OK, I won’t if you defrost a kilo of  leftover turkey. Deal?


Your bow tied dog blogger.

Johnny Meringue.

Look at me. Look at me.

Today I am wearing my funky bow.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one for grabbing the limelight, taking everything for myself and being generally greedy. Selfish is merely something the Boss is allergic to. I can share, I enjoy sharing, in fact sharing is in my nature. For example, I don’t mind who is in the lounge when the wood burner is pumping out the heat – I’ll be there doing my loyal if somewhat stupefied companion bit. See, sharing my time. That’s just me.. So when the Old One got an early Christmas present I thought ‘good for you’ ( but don’t expect anything on the big day itself) but it has kind of gone wrong. Let me explain.

He likes gardening and has hankered for years now for a greenhouse. After long protracted discussions he decided on stunning wooden one, and it got delivered last week. That’s when the trouble started. Normally, in our pre-greenhouse days the garden was for strolling around, a little bit of light digging, chasing the odd butterfly and doing ablutions ( that’s me, not the Old One – he doesn’t like chasing butterflies) But now it’s on with the coat, scarf and hat and straight out to the top of the garden where his new love in his life sits. He walks around it every day. He unlocks the door and sits in there. He just sits. Looking out. ‘Surveying my land’ he says. ‘My land’ indeed. There’s hardly room to cock a leg. That’s all fine except for one thing. Me. What do I do? We used to ‘walk the estate’ together. We used to look at slugs and snails together. We used to enjoy the outdoor space and then, most importantly, go back inside together and snooze together after sharing a biscuit or five. But now I might as well be invisible.

I’ve tried everything to get his attention. I’ve limped. I’ve howled in mock pain. I’ve hidden ( but he didn’t look for me so I came out of from under the stairs – so that’s where the Christmas presents are) I even contemplated trying a tightrope act along the washing line reminiscent of that dog on ‘I’mastrictlycelebrityXfactorBritishtalent’ programme they all seem to watch. Nothing. Nada. Nic. Nenio. As you see I’ve also tried to learn a few languages to impress. Nowt. He is besotted, obsessed and  blind to anything else. I even heard talk of him getting a heater so it is cosier up there.

So, I have to take drastic measures. First, if, as it now appears, the garden is only to be enjoyed from the new greenhouse then I can use the previously cosseted lower area of the lawn as a digging and, erm, ‘filling’ area. Secondly, even when the wood burner is at melting point I will dramatically exit the room if the Old One is the only one there ( but only if secondary fire in dining room is switched on) And thirdly, I will turn my nose up at any offering of chicken pieces. Tough I know but you have to win back the attention somehow. That should do it. Oh, and wearing a funky bow tie always attracts attention, especially now that the only thing in his empty, albeit beautiful, greenhouse is a home made seat, a thermometer and him. But come to think about it, when the heater’s there, it might be nice to see what the view is like. Bet it’s good place to ponder, plan and snooze on a cold afternoon. Hmmm, I’ve always been a fan of greenhouses.

Your bow tied dog blogger.

Cushions and carpets

Today I am wearing my red logo-bow.





‘Johnny. Sit’


I’m pretty sure Old One that you need to keep that doctors appointment to get your ears checked. No. I will not sit down just because you want to have a chat with the Postie. And why am I being difficult? Why stubborn? Why downright obstinate? Well, because it’s cold and wet. The leaves, and there’s plenty of them falling at the moment, are soggy. And to be honest I don’t want to put by bare behind and whatever else might be in that downstairs area onto nippy pavements shrouded in dead, decaying leaves. Would you?

‘Sit Johnny. Sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with him these days’.

Let me ask you then. What would your reaction be if the roles were reversed and I asked you to drop your everythings, treat yourself to a thermal shock and allow the damp to ingress?  What would it be? I bet you a red bowtie ( currently looking stand-out smart with the russet and auburn leaves still on the trees) you’d say ‘No’ and refuse. So Old One, why is it different for dogs?

So this little stand off continued until the Postie managed to get away from the Old One. As the Postie went on his way dressed in shorts ( that man is crazy) the Old One scowled and tugged at the lead. ‘Come on then, it that’s OK with you.’

And yes it is OK because a bit of wet on the paws is fine. Paws were designed for walking. Derrières were made for sitting on cushions and carpets. I only deal in facts. So we strolled, the Old One seemed to forget his bad mood and soon we reached the park. Now, bear in mind that the morning dew is heavy at this time of year and to the best of my arboricultural knowledge, wood soaks up moisture. So you would fully expect a grown Old One to know that a wooden bench having been out all night (and for years according to the little brass plaque stating that ‘Betty and Ken loved this view’ – a view that I think might have changed from one of rolling countryside in their day to Lowry-esque landscape complete with booming wind turbine and a great view of Asda’s roof) would be at best damp. Perhaps more than damp. Maybe sodden? But the beauty of this moisture is that it’s invisible.

‘Go on then Johnny. Run off your temper.’ And I was let off the lead to wander, sniff, rummage and furtle in the hedgerows and around the bins. The Old One sat and watched. I wandered. He watched. I looked up from sniffing. He sat. He watched. I rummaged in the undergrowth. He sat some more. I furtled in a McDonald’s cast off. I looked up. He still sat. He sat still. And all the time the moisture was rising.

‘Come on lad. Come on Johnny.’ Of course, no problem. I trotted back as he eased his aching bones up to discover the biggest wet patch on the back of his trousers since, well, the last time. He wasn’t best pleased chuntering all the way home, avoiding round two of Postie chat and when back at HQ quickly got changed.

See what I mean. Cushions and carpets my friends, cushions and carpets. No-one likes a wet…….

Your bow tied dog blogger.

Book Worm

October 8th 2015

Today I am wearing my camo-bow.

So it’s National Poetry Day is it? I suspected something when the old one dusted off a few books, opened the back door and invited me outside, alone, on my tod, for the usuals. Hang on a second. We go together, or least someone takes me. I might run off ( I won’t) , I might get dog-knapped ( I won’t) I might eat something I shouldn’t and be up all night followed by a visit to the vet ( I did  once, but I won’t again. Nasty. ) Then I saw him.

I was out in the cold, albeit sunny but parky, while he sat in his favourite chair, new glasses on, head stuck in a book. ‘OK, I’ll give him a minute or two and he’ll be out’ I thought. I rootled around near some pots of pansies and almost caught a drunken wasp in a fallen apple. Any minute and I’ll hear the whistle, the scrunching of a packet of nibbly treats and woof, we’ll be off.  But nothing.

I wandered down to the window and he was still there. This time however he was staring into space. Eyes open, book in hand, looking all faraway and wistful. Then it clicked. National Poetry Day. I heard it on the radio when the young one was scraping what looked like thinly smeared cream cheese off the insides of his football shin pads. ‘The whole day is dedicated to poetry’ I heard. What? Nothing else matters but poetry today? What about world security? What about the Rugby World Cup? Crikey – what about dog-welfare?

So I barked. Just a small one at first but he continued to stare. And again. Still the vacant, distant look. Maybe he wasn’t well. Perhaps something had happened to him and it was time for me to do the Lassie type thing and go to get help ( or lie at his feet until someone carries him away?) Either way he was inside, I was getting nippy and time was marching on towards lunch. A dog cannot survive on woozy wasps alone you know. I therefore had to do something that I haven’t done for a couple of years and to be honest, try to avoid due to a tweaked muscle in my back. I jumped at the window.

Startled and dropping his pound-shop glasses on the floor, he snapped back into my real world and shouted. Obviously being outside and having double glazing between us,  I couldn’t quite make out what he was yelling. What I actually heard was  ‘mmmmhhhnnnbbb mmm dammmuummm’. Roughly translated I reckon he meant ‘Don’t worry Johnny, I’ll be out in a second. Let me get my coat and boots on and we’ll go for a lovely long walk ( not forgetting the scrunchy packet of tasty treats) and we will exercise and chat until the ever weakening autumnal sun starts to set in the West. Here I come my loyal companion’.

If he did say that he didn’t mean it. The door did open, I jumped inside but my heart sank as I saw him rummaging in his man drawer for a notebook and pen. Oh no, he’s been here before. Poetry Day? Thank goodness it’s only once a year. Me and my camo-bow will melt into the background until he gets over it.

Your bow tied dog blogger.

Johnny Meringue.


Walk tall

October 6th 2015

Today I am wearing my stripy bow.

Was it Val Doonican who sang ‘Walk Tall’ in the 1960’s? My dad handed down this pedigree information when I was just a pup, and he also said never to follow that advice. Thing is, if you do what Val suggests you can’t help but miss loads of interesting stuff.

Take the other day for example. I was taking the old ‘un out for his morning walk, him walking tall, breathing deep and I have to say puffing a bit ( age and weight I reckon – might get him to the human vet soon) It’s supposed to get his system jolted into action. And me? Well, usual nose to the ground sniffing out what had gone on the night before. And I came up against something I don’t usually associate with a gentle morning stroll and a daily ablution or two. Pants. Yep, a pair of grey Next men’s underpants. Just lying there. I can tell you they pulled me up sharpish.

You see, a pair of prone pants must have a story. They certainly had a smell to my sensitive schnozzer. It’s not like the ones I used to get my head into and rip to pieces in the house, these were, I know it sounds silly, but they were sad. Pants with the blues ( even though they were grey – and wet from the autumnal dew) They were lifeless pants. But how did they get to lie in my way, on a pavement in the early autumn mist? I nudged them. I felt a slight tug at my neck. I snuffled at them. I flicked with a paw. Then the usual ‘ Come on, Johnny, leave it’. Where’s your inquisitive mind old ‘un? Don’t you want to know who they belong to ( I couldn’t see a name tag but who actually labels up their smalls – or mediums according to this pair –  as I guess no one willingly leaves the house in the morning expecting to lose their undergarments. Would they?) So we moved on, more walls to sniff, friends to catch up with and trees to irrigate. A complete and perplexing mystery.

A quick update: two days later the pants had gone. Disappeared. Vanished. Melted away. I wonder if someone had suddenly realised  ‘ Oh, the pants I put on this morning are missing, lets retrace my steps’ or maybe a friend of mine had got an extra minute to carry them home for a full forensic forage. I’ll ask about, and keep my nose to the floor just in case other stuff is out there in need of re-homing.

Your bow tied dog blogger.

Johnny Meringue.

Bake-Off bow

October 1st 2015

Today I am wearing my funky bow.

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. All I was doing was mooching around, sniffing the skirting board when I got a ‘ssssshhhhhhh’ from everyone. Not exactly sure I was making that much noise but I tried to sniff more quietly. Difficult if you don’t like the feeling of  light headedness and  blurred vision. ‘Ssshhhhhhh’ or you’ll be in your basket’. Then I realised what was making them collectively sound like the culmination of a long and arduous day at a pressure cooker convention. They were suffering from Bake-Off Fever.

I realised it happens at the same time every week. I get a rushed dinner, allowed to keep the day bow tie on ( this time funky-bow as we had been out to a local flea market – don’t even think about it!) and well into the evening. They all flopped into chairs, or I should say ‘my’ chairs as when they are out and I am in dog-alone things change around here, and stared.

But then, as the programme started, they all started shouting and laughing at the telly. Apparently one of the experts, and not the one from Liverpool with the attitude, looks just like your very own bow tie maker. Mary Berry, unofficial National Treasure along with Judi Dench, Alan Bennett and Monty Don’s dog Nigel on Gardeners’ World,  is the Bake Off person and….well, you can read about Bernadette your bow tie maker here on the website. I can kind of see the resemblance but is it worthy of screeching at the telly every time she comes on the the screen? Obviously it is.

So my sniffing was too loud but their whooping was fine was it?  I tried the wet nose on the hand trick to no avail. Please, if you are going to tickle my ears then do it with feeling. I went around them all and even the little one, who usually has plenty of time for quality attention, was engrossed. What can a dog do? Well, obviously with that lot all watching the intricate filling of a cream horn simply meant that the kitchen was unattended. Nice.

Curse the stone floors that make my claws sound like a Orlov the meerkat hammering out a best seller on an old fashioned  typewriter, but only a quieter ‘sssshhh’ came from the telly area. Ahhh, the kitchen. I could still hear in the distance ‘but what strength of flour did you use?’ emanating from the other room, followed by the family replies of ‘yeah, how strong mister, how strong??’ They sounded entrenched. I padded towards the noisy, buzzing fridge. ‘The combination of flavours do nothing for me’, followed by my lot saying ‘ nor me’. Good grief, you’re watching telly folks, you can’t taste it with them. But who cares, they were glued to their seats.

I’m not for one minute saying that leftovers of last nights bolognese, an out of date tub of hummus, a shrivelled sweetcorn, half an avocado and some ( apparently) non-edible stuff the old one was going to use to sort out slugs in the garden but ‘must be kept refrigerated before use’ would necessarily win any Bake Off prizes, but it was tasting OK until the curse of the stone floor struck and in came the Fridge Raiders Police.

‘In your basket’ indeed. I’ll speak when the fuss has calmed down.

Your bow tied dog blogger.

Johnny Meringue.

Hello – it’s started

September 28th 2015

Today I am wearing every bow tie in the range (not all at once)

Well, at last it’s up and running, and what a palaver it’s been getting to this point. You wouldn’t believe the number of bow ties I’ve had on. Not all at once but on and off, then on then off again. You get the idea. It’s all been in the interest of research apparently. To get the things right. And now, months after the first idea was brought up as I snoozed quietly under the table, there is what the family are calling the ta-dah moment. Something’s live apparently.

So anyway, back to that under table snooze. It was a little bit fitful, not a full on leg twitching job the teenager once recorded and put on YouTube,  but more of ‘a hazy voices, cozy feeling as sleep washed over me’ type, occasionally raising an eyelid to check on whether any cake crumbs were being brushed my way, when they all started screeching about ‘what a great idea it was’, ‘We can’t have the only dog who would look good in a bow tie” and ‘Oh no, grandad’s done one again’. I admit it was me this time.  ‘Bad grandad. In your basket!’  He got the blame but he’s all-right that grandad. Always has a bit of something in his pocket for a treat. He also sleeps as much as me in winter. And then it started, bow tie after bow tie was made, inspected unpicked and re-sewn, pieces of material all over the place and my collar almost worn ragged by all the fittings.

Now don’t get me wrong I love a bow tie – who doesn’t?  There’s a design to match any mood or situation. For example, a friend of mine looked great in his at a wedding. He got all the fuss and attention whilst the bride got a bit stroppy. It wasn’t his fault that he looked proper dapper and the photographer took more photos of him than her. Looking forward to seeing the wedding album.

And that’s that. Looks like we are all going to busy from now on. Orders are already coming in and bow ties being dispatched every day. I did hear them talking about going to some dog shows. And that might be fun. Meeting a few new friends, having a bit of tail wag, and to be honest, showing off in one of my bow ties. I’ll obviously keep you up to date on what’s happening.

But enough of this chitter-chatter as my stomach’s rumbling so I’m either feeling peckish or grandad’s going to be shouted at again.

Speak in a bit.

Your bow tied dog blogger

Johnny Meringue.